Click below to read a summary of the Stars project ideas for Bronze, Silver, and Gold awards; or to go back to project ideas click here .
Find out about apparent stellar (star) magnitudes and draw and label some constellations
To get started you need to find out about “apparent stellar magnitudes”. The Greek astronomer Hipparchus first used this system in about 150 BC – that‟s a long, long time ago!
You could do an Internet search using the key words „apparent‟ „magnitude‟. Next you need to get a “planisphere” or an observatory (planetarium) programme to help you find your way around the night sky. You might need to get some help from a teacher finding out what this means – or carry out more research using books and the internet.
Investigate the spectra of light emitted by hot objects
Many school hand-held spectroscopes work by passing the light from the object through a slit onto a prism or diffraction grating. A small eyepiece allows the user to observe the spectrum.
Build a model of an extrasolar planetary system
Extrasolar planets are planets orbiting stars outside of our Solar System. One method of detecting them is to obtain a „light curve‟ of the star. As the planet orbits the star, it obscures part of the star‟s surface and the apparent brightness of the star drops. In order for this technique to work properly, the telescope must be very sensitive.
A model of an extrasolar planetary system can be made using a battery-powered light bulb (for the star), mounted on a rotating table. The planet could be a simple cardboard disc or sphere of plasticine mounted on a cocktail stick. You could use a light sensor attached to a datalogger to obtain the light curve.